When the ABC broadcast almost entirely the InfoJobs press release on its analysis of the videogame labor market in Spain, surely it was not expected to receive so many JAJAJAJAJAJAJA . What motivated dozens of GIFs and tons of disbelief were the conclusions of the study: the videogame industry offers quality employment and very good job opportunities in Spain .
That we live in a golden age of videogame is undeniable. The AAA releases appear on the newscasts by themselves , not as a hook to talk about abuses or murders. There are eSports tournaments that are broadcast on payment platforms and clothing brands and pizzerias that sponsor teams . Even Wikipedia places videogames as the 10th art (three places behind the cinema, the other art whose position we know)
But all these are isolated milestones of the Videogame World, as well in general. If we put the magnifying glass in the Spanish sector, the scenario is different. Hence the surprise at the most enthusiastic news. Because we no longer talk about development budgets similar to those of movies or titles advertised on television. We speak of 455 companies, of which 74% have less than 10 employees and 49%, less than five. (All the data on the sector from here comes from the White Paper of the Spanish Development of Videogames 2018 )
In 2017 the sector invoiced 713 million euros, 15.6% more than 2016. It is a good figure, but let’s go into detail. Is the turnover more or less distributed or are some companies that grow while others observe? The answer is that almost 60% of the turnover corresponds to some 32 companies , the largest. The remaining 40% of the turnover is distributed among 423 companies, 93% of the sector.
It is not that the InfoJobs data are a lie, they are not, the problem is that they are not representative . There are companies that earn a lot of money and can offer enviable positions, but this is not the usual way.
“The Spanish industry is strong, but weak”, explains Pedro González, director of the Videogame Master of the Complutense University of Madrid. “There are two big problems. On the one hand, we do not have videogame publishing companies, which are those that take the lion’s bite. It is not the company that produces the game but the one that distributes it the one that makes money . Spain is a country of video game producers, the distributors are in the United Kingdom, France or the United States. The other problem of our industry is maturity: there is a lot of microenterprise but there are no major companies. “
For Javier Arevalo , former academic director of the videogame area of U-tad and current lead game programmer at Lingokids, ” We need not only a few solid studies, there are, but an entire industry . As in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, London, Stockholm … places where professionals move, they change from one study to another “. For Arevalo, the lack of large companies is due in part to the ” glorification of the pitch, ” which seeks a massive and rapid success with a single best-selling product. “The industry is built generating projects, giving them food and striving for them. And when they are grown, you pass to another. “
If we put together the massive popularity of the Videogame World, with more players than ever , and peppered it with news of the type that leads this article, with promises of stable jobs and payrolls above the average, the result is a perception of the profession realistic , which can confuse especially those who begin to prepare their future work.
“There are many kids who are pretty lost. They go to study videogames and do not know how they work or how they are made. They think that studying is going to be a simple job and the truth is that it is something very bad “, explains Daniel Palacio Santolaria , 3D designer and art teacher for videogames. (Palace compiled several tutorials to guide youngsters before embarking on studying videogames )
For Gilberto Sánchez, academic director of the area of Videogames in U-tad, there is a misunderstanding between what many students aspire to study and what they really have to study. “It’s purely aspirational. They would like to make video games because they are passionate about it. They are people who have grown up playing video games and see it as a profession, which is what it is . But they believe that everything is telling stories and putting them there. They see themselves playing the games they play without knowing the complexity behind them, and the technological and work demands they have “, explains Sánchez.
“Ten years ago, the people who studied these studies came from engineering, from physics, from mathematics, from computer science … from very difficult careers. Why is it going to be easier now? C ++ is not easier now than 7 or 8 years ago . If you think you can make a video game without being a C ++ specialist due to the fact that there are tools that make life easier for you to compose game situations through graphic engines, you live in an imaginary landscape. Whoever sells and makes products that everyone wants needs real programmers, “says Sanchez.
In the last five years, all computer science degrees have multiplied their enrollments . Computing multiplied them by 1.2, multimedia engineering, by 1.4, software development and applications, also by 1.4. How much increased the registrations of the degree of development of videojuegos? 10.5 times .
Last year 1,285 people were enrolled in a degree of video game development; the previous one, 1.010. We must remember that the entire sector is now composed of 6,337 professionals .
Is there then a bubble?
” The offer of training is greater than what the industry can hoard , but that is something that happens in many sectors. In university education there is full employment in computing, telecommunications and little else. This does not mean that there is no industry or that it does not move, “says Pedro González, director of the Videogame Master of the UCM.
“I think what we have is a boom in the offer of degrees related to videogames, ” says Gilberto Sánchez, academic director of the Videogame area at the U-tad University Center.
“Yes, but more a bubble of education than of the industry. The industry is growing. The problem is that we are getting many more students than the industry can absorb , “says Daniel Palacio, 3D designer and art teacher for video games.
” Yes in the sense that there are many students and that it will cost them to find work , but I do not think it is especially worrisome in relation to other careers. I also think that there is a bubble in that they will have many outputs, which is not true, “says Javier Arevalo, former academic director of the U-tad videogame area and current lead game programmer at Lingokids.
Asked about the exits of a student specialized in programming, art or videogame design, González and Arevalo opted to recommend an education that does not close the doors to other occupations . For Gonzalez, “in the UCM we have a degree in videogames, but our approach in the degree is to train programmers, so that if the student gets a job as a video game programmer, well, but if not, he also has many more outings” .
For Javier Arevalo, “the world of videogames is at a turning point. People do not know what it is, but it is considered to be a big industry . It is said that has very powerful outputs but it is not, it is a very difficult field, highly specialized and that is very subject to the vagaries of the market: you can make a very good game and not sell it because another becomes fashionable. When the White Paper came out, some media talked about the second golden age of the videogame in Spain, and it is not true, to describe it in those terms is to trivialize the effort. At the most we are in the Bronze Age, and we have to move it forward . “